HR Snapshot #5: Is your business a Runaway Train?
Posted on 18th June 2019 at 15:23
By Kate van der Sluis, Managing Partner
Have you been part of a business that seems to have forgotten the very thing that made it successful in the first place? That moment when success is the very thing that threatens to destroy a business comes as quite a surprise and this is a common theme with our clients.
One business, led by a brilliant entrepreneur with a great idea and the ability to market it well, went from three employees to twenty-three in 16 months. They scaled everything from sales, to operations, project management to delivery and they did it fast. They had hit the jackpot and the future was golden.
Sadly, the glorious moments of being cash rich and floating on air came crashing down. They needed to move office and during the move, my client was walking around his new space, looking at his team and he realised that he didn’t know his own staff. You might think this isn’t a big deal but to him, this was ‘that moment’ when he realised that the very culture, values and ethos of the business he had created was hugely under threat.
The company has been so busy delivering projects, winning awards and feeling good about themselves, they had lost sight of what was important.
Your people, your values and your culture are your greatest asset
My client had worked in two very large and well-known Blue-Chip companies before he set up his own business. He thought he knew about people; what motivated them, how to reward them, how to manage them, how to communicate with all personality types. But when small businesses move into a place of rapid growth and change, the game changes and you have to change but one thing is constant - your people are everything. Who you recruit is vital but how you recruit them, how you on-board them and how you manage them is critical to the success of your business.
Never distress recruit
Putting people AND culture first is critical to success. Yes, it’s the last thing you want to be thinking of when you are juggling lots of balls but the buck stops at you as the business owner. It’s so tempting when you are tired, stressed and stretched to just get a ‘bum on a seat’ but doing so will bring you a world of pain in the long run. Whether you’ve just recruited the wrong person for your culture, a poor performer or a great candidate that you have on-boarded badly doesn’t matter, if they leave or you need to dismiss them half way into a project or process they are involved in, you’re losing time, money and continuity.
• Have a very clear purpose for your business. Your values and this purpose drive everything you do, especially recruitment.
• Have a clear picture of the culture you want to build, how you want your team, customers and suppliers to act and to be treated. Make sure this ethos is built into all your company processes, procedures and services.
• Put processes in place before you need them. It’s very hard to change things once they are set, particularly in fast growth situation when everything is chaotic.
• Do not recruit for a role without a clear job description and a clear idea of ‘what good looks like’ for each role. If you don’t know it, the employee can’t know it and you won’t be able to measure if things are going well (or not). You can’t blame an employee for not being good enough if you haven’t explained what ‘good’ looks like.
• Don’t compromise on recruitment. A bad recruit is a world of pain. A great candidate with a poor culture fit is a short-term relief but a bad apple spoils the whole pile!
• Don’t just hire on cultural fit, as is often said, your new recruit has to be capable and have the skills too.
• Prepare for new starters before they arrive! Have everything ready; desk, phone, laptop, business cards, stationary - whatever is needed for them to do their job. Even send an orientation pack the week before they start with an introduction to their team, where to park, where to get lunch etc.
• On-board them and ensure that they meet the senior team as well as their team. Tell them what they do, why the company is great and what the values, culture and purpose of the business is. Provide them with a timetable of tasks, training, learning and ‘outcomes’ with follow-up at each stage.
• Embed ‘what good looks like’ at this early stage, tell them what you expect of them and why.
• Treat your staff as individuals, reward them in the way that will motivate them and remember to always say thank you!
Remember - Poor company culture destroys a business. From my point of view, I would argue that recruiting people is the most important thing, if you don’t get it right, you’re going to waste an awful lot of money and time. If your people aren’t the right people, doing the right things, at the right time, in the right way and being treated right, stormy waters lie ahead. If you want to talk about company culture, hiring the right people, dismissing the wrong ones or anything else mentioned in this article, say firstname.lastname@example.org
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